Friday, October 24, 2014

Chronica Feudalis: Armor Expansion

I'm a history nerd. There is no denying it. While I enjoy fantasy, my real passion is for the mud-and-blood of low-fantasy or historical fiction. Chronica Feudalis rules actually handle this pretty well, if one is willing to color their narration to taste, but since I have a thing for historical detail I thought I would spice things up.

Today's post will be the first in a series on adding some extras to Chronica Feudalis, starting with Armor. As always, your mileage may vary, but after a relatively decent amount of testing this held up nicely.

Armor Expansion
This revised edition makes a few changes. The original table for Chronica Feudalis read as follows:
d4   | A leather jerkin, a gambeson, a maille coif
d6   | Hardened leather cuirass, a helm
d8   | Maile hauberk
d10 | Scale coat
Helms and Stacking
First, when a helm is worn in addition to armor, it will stack with the armor you already have. Wearing a helm or coif will increase your armor die by 1 step. Thus, a hauberk and a helm count as d10 armor. This d10 will be both your armor die when being attacked, and the armor die you'd have to endure in appropriate circumstances.

This was chiefly done because I didn't like the idea of an Ardor cost for your helmet to work. Few people seemed interested in spending a point to gain d4 under any circumstances, and it granted the weirdest mental image of trying to headbutt an arrow. Under the previous rules, the iconic great helm was more trouble than it was worth - rarely a benefit, but frequently a hindrance.

Whether you're using a half-helm or coif (both d4) or a full helm (d6), you get the same 1 step bump to your armor die. However, to account for the difference between the two kinds of headgear
  • Full Helms hamper your hearing and vision (when the visor is down, when applicable) and must be endured under these circumstances, but prevent any kind of injury specific to the face.
  • Coifs (and Half Helms, added in this expansion) do not hamper vision or hearing, but do not protect the face in the way that Full Helms do.
 Expanded Armor Table
d4   | A leather jerkin, a gambeson, a mail coif, half-helm (kettle helm, and so on)
d6   | Hardened leather cuirass, great helm (sallet, etc)
d8   | Mail hauberk, Coat of Plate
d10 | Scale coat
d20 | Full Plate Harness
Half Helm - This represents all manner of open-faced metal helms that were popular among every class throughout the middle ages. We covered stacking above, so I won't bother going into it again.

Great Helm - Expanded to include all closed-face helms and great-helms. Many of these have a visor that can be opened for better vision (and breathing). When these are open, they count as half-helms but still incur the hearing penalty.

Coat of Plate (or Brigandine) - This was a transitional armor that came into prominence in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century. It consisted of steel plates riveted into the inside of a leather doublet, usually faced with some kind of fabric. The idea of a "studded leather" armor actually comes from a misunderstanding of what this garment is. On it's own, it provides the d8 armor listed above. More commonly, it was worn over maille. When worn with a maille hauberk, the armor stacks and bumps up to d10. This also stacks with headgear. A knight with Sallet, coat of plate, and hauberk will have d12 armor.

Full Plate Harness - This is the full suit of plate (not "plate mail." Maille only refers to the chain-link material) that marks the high-point of armor development in the western tradition. Yes, it's a big jump from d12 to d20, but keep in mind that the closer we get to Plate, the more pole-arms and two-handed swords became the norm as knightly weapons. the d20 represents this well. We also know that it was damn hard to kill someone in plate unless you had them on the ground and could pierce one of the joints in the armor. On the flip-side, enduring that d20 is going to be a good deterrent to people living in plate and in reality it was rarely worn outside of tourneys or pre-planned battles. As a side note, this assumes a helm is worn, as the helm would be made to fit the armor like any other piece of the suit. The helm does not increase the armor rating, but the d6 penalty may still apply for hearing/vision tests where appropriate.

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